Black, White, Other

  • by Joan Steinau Lester
  • Narrated by Bahni Turpin
  • 7 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Joan Steinau Lester's newest book looks that the emotional and social experience of Nina, a teen girl living in LA who feels caught between two worlds - the "white" world of her mother and the "black" world of her father. This nowhere land of race becomes harder to navigate when the support system her parents offered is shattered by their divorce.
Now, with racial tensions rising in her school and community, her white friends seeing her as too "ghetto" and her black friends labeling her too white, and her father pressuring her to take up her black heritage, Nina feels lost and abandoned. Even Nina's faith seems to fail her - how can she cling to God and the songs of the church when God's image in her seems twisted?
When Nina discovers a book her father is writing about Sarah, her great-great grandmother who escaped from slavery on the Underground Railroad, Nina finds someone who can understand her feelings of being trapped in an upside-down world. But will those stories be enough to guide Nina through the pressures she now faces?

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Issues of race and identity

This young-adult book will strike a chord with many of today's youngsters, either because they find themselves in this situation, or because others they know are struggling with similar problems to Nina.
Nina is American, has a white mother, black father and a mixed brother who is darker than she is. She hadn't seen this as a problem until her parents decide to divorce and she stays with her mother, while her younger brother goes to live with her Dad. At the same time, her classmates suddenly seem to have a problem with her colour, which didn't seem to be an issue before - is this because she has become more aware of race, or just an age thing, as teenagers grow and become more self-aware? Either way, Nina finds herself fitting into neither the black, white, nor mixed-race camps.

An interesting side theme has Nina's Dad writing a book about his Great-Grandmother, Sarah Armstrong, who lived as a slave and, at fifteen, escaped to Canada. Nina gradually reads the chapters of her father's book as he writes them and it does serve to put her struggles into some sort of perspective. There are certainly similarities when Nina decides to run away from home, but no-one is chasing her to bring her back into captivity, or threatening to beat her almost to death.

The ending was a little contrived, but the message was clear enough.
I listened to this in Audible format, excellently read by Bahni Turpin.
I see the author has a second novel, recently released, Mama's Child, on a similar theme. Although not currently available on Audible, I will certainly be on the look-out for this one.
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- DubaiReader "MaryAnne"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 26-08-2011
  • Publisher: Zondervan